Yesterday, today & tomorrow: Calling Miss Norways

Photos courtesy of the Norwegian Immigration Association The first and the 50th Miss Norway together: Shirley Bensen and Elizabeth Malmstrom. What have the other 59 Miss Norways been up to?

Photos courtesy of the Norwegian Immigration Association
The first and the 50th Miss Norway together: Shirley Bensen and Elizabeth Malmstrom. What have the other 59 Miss Norways been up to?

Rigmor Swensen & Lars Nilsen
Norwegian Immigration Association

The first Miss Norway of Greater New York Contest took place in the post-war year of 1954. It was one of the ways Norwegian-American immigrants chose to affirm our cultural heritage, which implies that we share a sense of belonging to a community. It is our history—a connection to the past, the present, and the future. The Miss Norway of Greater New York event has continued to take a major role in our cultural heritage, and celebrated its 61st anniversary this year.

Miss Norway of Greater New York 2016, Lene Samuelsen, comes from Connecticut. She graduated from Lehigh University with majors in Political Science and Global Studies as well as minors in Business and Asian Studies. She is currently Account Representative in the sales department of Bloomberg L.P., NYC.

After the contest, one of the judges said, “It’s been a real pleasure to hear so many young women express their interest in their Norwegian heritage and to hear their plans for the future. Sixty earlier winners! I wonder if being Miss Norway affected their lives in any way.”

Someone said, “Curiosity is the essence of human existence.” The judge’s remark came up time and again and set lots of Miss Norway fans to wondering. Where are they? What are they doing? How did the Miss Norway experience figure in their lives? And what would they say to future Miss Norway contestants?

Now, former winners of the Miss Norway of Greater New York (1954 to 2016) are getting together to suggest ways in which the annual Miss Norway contest can involve some other activities. You are invited to share your ideas. So far we’ve heard from Pennsylvania, Chicago, and California, as well as the tri-state area. This is not a formal group—no dues, officers, or obligations. It doesn’t matter where you live; we’ve got email, skype, conference calls, and whatever else facilitates communication. If you are interested in joining us, please email your contact information to niahistoryonline@yahoo.com.

What better way to connect the past, the present, and the future?

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 23, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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